Acquire the license to the best health content in the world
Contact Us

Prayer Can Be Good Medicine

Study says many Americans use it to deal with health concerns

TUESDAY, April 27, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Almost a third of Americans use prayer, along with conventional and alternative medical care, to deal with health concerns.

That finding appears in the April 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

While there is no proof that prayer actually has the power to make people better, some research has found associations between spirituality and better health outcomes, the article noted.

Harvard Medical School researchers did a national survey of 2,055 adults between October 1997 and February 1998 on their use of prayer. They were also asked about their use of conventional medicine and complementary and alternative medical therapies.

The study found 75 percent of the survey respondents prayed for wellness, 35 percent used prayer for health concerns, and 22 percent used prayer for specific medical conditions.

Of the people who used prayer for specific medical conditions, 69 percent said they found prayer very helpful.

Those most likely to use prayer were: more than 33 years old; female; had more than high school education; had depression, chronic headaches, back and/or neck pain, digestive problems or allergies.

"In summary, we found that prayer for health concerns is a highly prevalent practice," the study authors wrote.

"Prayer is most often directed toward wellness and used in conjunction with conventional medical care. People who use prayer for health concerns report high levels of perceived helpfulness but rarely discuss their use of prayer with their physicians. Physicians should consider exploring their patients' spiritual practice to enhance their understanding of their patients' response to illness and health," the authors wrote.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about spirituality and health.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, April 26, 2004
Consumer News